NDP and Greens vote down opt-out clause for municipalities impacted by Speculation Tax

VICTORIA (November 27 ,2018) – The NDP are pushing through flawed legislation that ignores local mayors and forces British Columbians to pay tax on hard-earned savings like family cabins.

The Finance Minister has ignored months of calls from municipalities to allow an opt-out clause to mitigate the devastating local consequences of the Speculation Tax. Several amendments were tabled by the BC Liberals last week, including one that would have provided an opt-out clause, which the NDP and Greens voted unanimously against. An exemption for British Columbians over the age of 55, who had owned an existing property over 10 years, was also defeated.

“I have to echo the concerns brought up by many municipalities who feel singled out by the tax while other communities are excluded,” said Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart. “Community leaders from across the province are disappointed that Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver failed to follow through on his promise to oppose the tax. This is especially disheartening because workers throughout BC are being put out of work as a direct result of this unfair and misguided asset tax.”

“There are positive measures that can be taken to improve affordability,” said Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson. “The Speculation Tax — in its current form — will have no impact on improving the supply of housing. If anything, this tax is having a negative effect. Local governments are in a much better position to deal with housing in their own region compared to a patchwork tax designed to deliberately depress housing starts.”

“This Speculation Tax harming local economies across this province and it fails to address serious speculators,” added Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick. “Not only did the NDP vote down our amendments last week, they also refused to acknowledge our bill earlier this year that would have targeted real speculators.”

“In West Kelowna,our housing starts dropped very significantly in the first half of 2018,” says former West Kelowna mayor and now councillor Doug Findlater. “While we saw a bit of a rebound in the third quarter, our construction industry remains constrained by the Speculation Tax. When construction is down, jobs are lost, new homes are not builtand there is reduced housing supply. I will also add that municipal revenue is reduced at a time when senior levels of government are downloading other taxation and responsibilities onto local government. The Speculation Tax has had a negative impact on West Kelowna and we remain very opposed to it.”

The Speculation Tax is retroactive to January 1st, 2018.

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